He finds an apprenticeship at an investment company. They will train him, but there is no pay for 6 months. And at the end of that six months, he only gets the job if he is the best in the class. One student out of the group will be chosen.
Then his wife leaves him and their son, and he soon finds himself homeless, living on the streets while caring for his boy and trying to be the best in his class. Many things are against him:
- he is impverished--homeless--and he's trying to keep it secret
- he is black
- his teachers are treating him more like a servant boy than a winner, as if they already expect him to lose
- he has less time than anybody else to focus on this because he has to take care of his child
They teach him to make cold calls, starting at the bottom of a list that is organized by income. After receiving rejection after rejection, he decides this plan--going to the poorest first--isn't working. So he jumps to the top of the list and immediately gets an interview for his sales pitch. Eventually he succeeds because he thought his strategy through.
In the article How David Beats Goliath: When Underdogs Break the Rules , Malcolm Gladwell says that the weak and powerless have the strength to win when they chose strategies that defy the usual rules of combat. In David and Goliath's time, you were supposed to be decked out in armor, wielding a heavy sword, and pitting strength against strength. But David used his strengths--mobility, skill with a slingshot, passion, and faith--to beat the giant. He won by agility rather than strength.
We too have the ability to win even when the odds are set against us--if we are willing to play by our own rules. You have to let go of preconceived notions and standard philosophies that you had been taught since childhood. I've been reading the Rich Dad Poor Dad books, including one about building a business, Rich Dad's Before You Quit Your Job by Robert T. Kiyosaki.
In this book, Kiyosaki teaches the following steps to success (my paraphrase):
1. Make a plan.
4. Get a mentor
7. Study (take some courses, get some books)
8. Keep trying and failing.
10. Start all over again.
The point is that when you try and fail, you don't give up, but you also don't keep doing the same failed strategies. You learn and analyze and find a new approach until you finally get the winning combination.
However, you don't stop with the winning combination. You find a new idea and make that work, applying the lessons you learned the first time through. And you do that for the rest of your life.